SAFF Championship: India faces Bangladesh in opening match on Monday

India switched to competitive mode as the seven-time winners face Bangladesh in the SAFF Championship at the Malé National Football Stadium in the Maldives on Monday.

National football team coach Igor Stimac said after the team’s training session that “the first game is always the toughest game” and added of Bangladesh’s opponents: “Bangladesh is a known opponent, but we respect them very much. In fact, we respect every team that plays here, and they have an equal chance of winning the tournament ”.

“The message from our coaching staff and our national head coach is very clear,” Sunil Chhetri told during the press conference on the eve of the match.

“It’s more and more about the way we play. We have to make sure that we minimize our mistakes, and we have to make sure that in every game, no matter what, we give 100%. We cannot be complacent, ”Sunil said.

It rained and according to the local MET office, the rain will not last for a whole day unlike the monsoon. “We never take the rain seriously at this time of year, unless there is a warning from the MET office. If it’s raining, take shelter, check your cell phone for 10 minutes. Then the rain will subside, ”said Ibrahim, former footballer and local coordinator of the Indian team.

Stimac has made no secret that he will make the most of ATK players Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC who played in the Maldives earlier in the AFC Cup. “We are counting on the players from Bengaluru FC and ATKMB because not only did they play here a few weeks ago, but they started working with their respective clubs. And they had enough training sessions and games. . Their engines are therefore good for such a tournament, “the national coach told” We have to be careful how many minutes we give each player corresponding to what they can do at the moment. with regard to endurance capabilities. “

Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who was part of the triumphant squad in 2015, added: “The teams have improved dramatically since the last time we played them. The teams have become more organized and they know how to play according to the weaknesses of the other team. You can no longer take any team lightly.

Sunil, a 16-year veteran of international football, has stressed that he does not want to lose any game for the country. “When you’re young you play for a lot of things. As we age, many of them decrease. I have played over 100 matches for India, I don’t have 100 yet and I want to make the most of whatever matches I have left. I want to win a match if I play for my country. The two games against Bangladesh were extremely difficult. I don’t want to lose any game for my country, ”he said.

Stimac also made mention of Udanta Singh, who got a “deserving call” in the national team. “Udanta is one of the 23 players we have here. He deserved that call with his last game playing for Bengaluru in the AFC Cup. Udanta was not playing in his natural position for the past two years, ”explained Stimac. “We need him to come back to his best – direct attack with his speed, execution and preparation for chances.”

Kick-off tomorrow (Monday, October 4) is at 4:30 p.m. IST.

India matches to be broadcast live on Eurosport

India’s matches in the SAFF Championship will be broadcast live on Eurosport. India play their first game against Bangladesh on October 4, followed by games against Sri Lanka on October 7, Nepal on October 10 and Maldives on October 13.

The AIFF thanks Eurosport for participating in the broadcast of India’s matches in the SAFF Championship and, having full confidence in Eurosport’s technical expertise, the Federation looks forward to their offering a viewing experience in direct transparent to all fans.

Depending on the format, five teams will compete in a round robin format, with the top two qualifying for the final which is scheduled for October 16.

Here are India’s matches in the group stage:

October 4: Bangladesh vs India (IST 4:30 p.m.).

October 7: India vs Sri Lanka (IST 4:30 p.m.).

October 10: Nepal vs India (IST 9:30 p.m.).

October 13: India vs Maldives (IST 9:30 p.m.).